The Real Cause Of Vaping Hysteria In US Confirmed By The CDC

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has finally confirmed the real cause of the string of recent lung illnesses and deaths is due to black-market e-liquids containing vitamin E acetate. 


Vitamin E Acetate is a thickening agent that has been used to enable THC liquid to be vaped in e-cigarette devices.  According to the Principal Deputy Director for the CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat, in a new report they released last week confirmed “we have detected a potential toxin of concern, vitamin E acetate, from biological samples from patients”.  Based on samples taken from the lungs of patients, including two who died, “provided evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury in the lungs.”


Overblown By Media Headlines And Mis-Information

 We all would have seen the headlines over the last few months from all of the major news outlets claiming that e-cigarettes and vaping was causing an epidemic in the US.  This lead to a huge groundswell of anti-vaping articles and over-reactions across the States and around the world.


Many of the states in the US imposed immediate bans of all flavoured e-cigarettes, widespread hysteria about the danger of ALL e-cigarettes and even President Trump chimed in declaring that he was banning any e-liquid flavour which wasn't tobacco.  Beyond this, the world’s largest retailer Walmart stated they were going to stop the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam's Club US locations.


And after all this, it turns out the illness has nothing to do with nicotine filled e-cigarettes. And what makes this worse is the fact that cigarettes are still the number 1 preventable killer in the US, with 14 million people treated for smoking related diseases annually!



Vitamin E Acetate in E-liquids

The chemical actually responsible for these isolated lung illnesses, vitamin E acetate, was never meant to be used in e-cigarettes, and has been added to illegal e-liquids filled with THC to vaporise it better.


The investigators at the CDC said that 79% of those who were affected admitted to using these black-market e-liquids with THC in it. The remaining 21% haven't been explained yet, though it seems strange that these 21% have exactly the same symptoms as the rest but without the apparent cause. 


In a separate study to find the cause of this illness, health inspectors in the state of Illinois surveyed over 4000 e-liquid users and found that those who got ill were much more likely to use e-liquids with THC in, and were 9 times more likely to buy e-liquids on the street rather than from a reputable source.


The two theories at the moment which hold the most weight is that the 21% either bought e-liquid not knowing that it had vitamin E acetate in it (which would have to be from a grey market source, as even in the USA this chemical wouldn't be allowed in any legal e-liquid), or they don't want to admit they have been using THC.


The black market suppliers are the worst offender here, offering THC infused e-liquids which are not only illegal but untested. The grey market though holds a lot of the blame too, although the e-liquids sold there don't contain chemicals that are illegal they could literally contain anything else. You don't exactly get the most rigorous testing from people who have mixed their e-liquid in a bathtub after all.


This whole incident showcased the main issue that needs to be addressed by the US government bodies and e-cigarette industry, the need for regulation.


The Positive Health Impact Of Vaping in the US

To balance the debate and add some perspective on the real impact of vaping and e-cigarettes, let’s compare smoking traditional cigarettes to switching to the healthier alternative of e-cigarettes.


According to Reuters roughly 10.8M people vape in the US on a regular basis. The vast majority of adult vapers in the US are vaping to get off cigarettes and the 4,000 chemicals and 50 known carcinogens that are found in traditional tobacco products. Because e-cigarettes only include a few ingredients (none of which should be harmful if you buy them from a reputable source) they have been shown to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to Public Health England.


These 10.8 million people are using e-cigarettes to get their nicotine fix in a healthier manner, not to consume THC. Safety-conscious and aware consumers would more than likely buy their e-liquids and e-cigarettes from established brands.


So to quantify this situation, there have been approximately 2,000 reported cases of the new lung illness caused by THC e-liquids, versus 10.8 million normal e-cigarette users. This represents 0.018% of the total number of e-cigarette users who have been affected.


 “Only 0.018% of Vapers in the US have been affected”


Based on estimates by Reuters mentioned above, if there are 10.8M people using e-cigarettes in the US at the moment, the reduction of risk of smoking related disease would be falling so rapidly.  If you assume the average adult smoker consumes 10 cigarettes a day, that means there are 108,000,000 cigarettes that are NOT BEING SMOKED EVERY DAY in the US alone! On an annual basis, the e-cigarette industry is replacing 39.4 Billion cigarettes every year.

Photo by Aaron Burson -


According to the CDC, cigarette smoke is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year in the US.  This means that 1 in every 5 people die due to cigarettes.  According to NHS estimates, for every person who dies as a result of a smoking, there are at least 30 more people being treated for a smoking-related disease.  This means there will be 14.4M people clogging up the hospitals around the US this year alone.


As smoking-related diseases are preventable, having 10.8M people smoking 39.4B less cigarettes each year can only have massive positive health implications in the US.  In the UK where over 3M people are active vapers, the use of e-cigarettes will replace the consumption of 10.9B cigarettes, will keep people healthier, free up resources in the NHS to treat other non-preventable diseases, improve the quality of life for 3M+ families and keep people actively working and contributing to UK society for longer!


But maybe there isn’t enough profits for tobacco companies if less people are smoking?  Perhaps if we look at the lobbying dollars being spend in the US and where those funds are being focused, we may begin to understand why this incident made bigger headlines than “108B cigarettes were not smoked in the US today!”.


What About Vaping in the UK and Europe?

If you're a UK or EU reader the good news is that the issues surrounding the US aren't happening here. Due to the laws passed in 2016 (the TPD) all e-liquids have to be tested by a 3rd party and pass rigorous examination before they are allowed to be sold. 


The TPD law addressed the issues that the USA is facing now with underage e-cigarette users and untested e-liquid. Firstly, they made it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy e-liquids, as you might have noticed when you entered this website or whenever you make an order. It also stopped e-cigarette companies from marketing to just anyone.


These laws are seem to be working, Public Health England (PHE) conducted a study of teenagers early this year and found only 0.2% of teenagers who don’t smoke use an e-cigarette. While it would be better if this was 0% it does show that the new rules are working. To see how effective these laws have been all you have to do is compare the UK’s percentage to the USA where 27.5% of teenagers have used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.


The TPD regulations also made it illegal to sell any e-liquid that hadn't been tested for harmful chemicals (like vitamin E acetate), and required all e-liquids to be tested within a system to ensure a consistent amount of nicotine in the vapour produced as well (to make sure the heating of the e-liquid didn't change anything).


If the e-liquids with vitamin E acetate were tested in the UK they would never have passed the testing.


Here at SMOKO, we not only have our liquids tested, but are made in the UK as well, so we can ensure that we know exactly what is in our e-liquids and safe for our customers.


But if you are still worried, here are two pieces of advice that can help:


1) make sure that any liquid you buy is tested and is preferably made with only the highest quality ingredients. That's why here at SMOKO we make sure all our liquids are made in the UK, that way we cannot only make sure that they are tested to the highest grades but also all the actual ingredients are pharmaceutical grade.


2) use a closed system instead of an open system and e-liquids. If you are not sure where your e-liquids are coming from or how they will react to your battery's voltage (as e-liquids can change depending on how they are heated) then choose a system that has been tested with the e-liquids inside to make sure the vapour produced holds nothing more than it needs.

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